Various Artists

52nd Street: Street of Jazz

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The locale in New York City where swing met bop, 52nd Street was littered with clubs that might have Art Tatum on one side and Charlie Parker on the other on any given night during the '40s. Charly celebrates the diversity with a hefty 44 tracks spread out over two discs. In addition to big band sides from Count Basie, Woody Herman, and Charlie Barnet, there are several standout combo numbers featuring Red Norvo, Fats Waller, Stuff Smith, Hot Lips Page, and John Kirby. The variety continues with vocal highlights by Lee Wiley, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, and Billy Eckstine. And for those bop fans -- and swing-to-bop fans, too -- the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas, Dexter Gordon, Ike Quebec, and Coleman Hawkins are given their due on the last ten or so cuts. The absence of any Parker material is, of course, a crime, but with this much prime terrain to take in who's worrying?

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